The metal shortage of the 1940s influenced a shift in product design, affecting everything from women's undergarments to toothpaste packaging. It was in this environment that Henry P. Glass came up with a stylish and practical solution we still love today: hairpin table legs.
Hairpin table legs remain popular to this day as a staple of the ever-popular midcentury modern look. Professional and DIY designers, alike, gravitate toward hairpin legs because they're easy to install and mesh well with any aesthetic.
The question is, how do you find hairpin table legs that are suitable for your project and high in quality?
Keep reading for seven tips for buying the perfect hairpin table legs.
1. Start With Dimensions
Before you start looking for the perfect hairpin table legs, make sure you know what size you need. A good rule of thumb is that 28-inch legs tend to work best for desks and tables you intend to sit at, like dining room tables. 28-inch legs will provide the proper height for most desk or dining room chairs.
For further reference, 34-inch legs are ideal for free-standing countertops, while legs that are between 12 and 16 inches are best reserved for coffee tables and benches. If you're creating high-top tables, 40-inch hairpin legs will do the trick.
2. Look for Steel Hairpin Table Legs
Ideally, you want to purchase hairpin table legs that are made of a base material of steel. Steel hairpin legs are truest to the original hairpin legs of the 1940s. Plus, they are sturdy and durable without adding a ton of additional weight to your project.
The question is, should you look for raw steel or steel with a finish? Raw steel has a tendency to rust quite easily, requiring regular care. We prefer steel hairpin legs that have a finish, as these look better and require far less maintenance.
3. Decide Between Two or Three Rods
Depending on where you shop, you'll find hairpin legs made with two or three rods. While you can find two-rod hairpin legs for desks and dining tables, we recommend using three-rod legs for larger projects.
Two-rod hairpins are perfect for lightweight or low pieces, such as coffee tables. The third rod is useful for larger and heavier projects as the third rod, cutting down the centre of the outer rods, provides extra strength and stability. That means that you won't have to worry about any wobbling or shaking.
4. Select a Colour
Traditionally, hairpin table legs were the dark grey of raw steel. Nowadays, it's important to modernize these classic table legs by providing a wide variety of colours.
Naturally, the grey and black legs are still available for traditional projects. However, we also provide legs with a copper finish as well as brighter colours such as blue and yellow. Nothing puts the "modern" in "midcentury modern" like a bright and eye-catching pop of colour!
5. Check Weight Limits
Check manufacturer guidelines before deciding which hairpin legs are suitable for your hairpin table. More specifically, make sure that you look at the weight limits of your hairpin legs before making the purchase.
How much does your tabletop weigh? Add several kilograms to this weight, as you are likely to put objects on your table and people may even lean their body weight against it.
If you know that you need hairpin legs that can hold over 60 kg, make sure to purchase heavy-duty table legs.
6. Make Sure Your Tabletop Is Hairpin-Ready
When you're constructing a table with hairpin legs, you won't be using the typical apron board around the perimeter. Apron boards are designed to add stability to your tabletop, particularly if it is long and heavy. The purpose is to keep it from bowing or dipping in the centre.
Why don't hairpin leg dining tables use apron boards? An apron board would hide the top of the legs, disrupting the design. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to use to prevent bowing or dipping.
Fit the underside of your tabletop with three wood cleats that span the width of the board. The middle cleat should go down the centre of the table. The outer cleats should go just inside the hairpin legs, so you may want to install these last.
7. Shop With a Hairpin Leg Company You Can Trust
At the Hairpin Leg Company, we pride ourselves on creating beautiful designs that don't forgo function. Our goal is to provide you with furniture pieces like hairpin table legs that will allow you to turn anything, from a recycled slab of plywood to an old door, into a stylish staple for your home.
Your satisfaction is our number one concern. If you're not happy with the hairpin legs, hardware, or tops that you purchase from our store, we offer a 60-day return window. Send back your materials within 60 days and we'll provide a full refund, no questions asked.
When you're looking to create beautiful and functional pieces from scratch, you can trust the Hairpin Leg Company.
The Hairpin Leg Company Can Help
Hairpin table legs are a timeless addition to any tabletop that will blend seamlessly with your interior design. At the Hairpin Leg Company, we provide a wide variety of sizes and finishes to ensure that you can find what you need for your project.
Would you prefer a ready-made piece equipped with hairpin legs? Take a look at our selection of ready-made tables, desks, and seating options. Where you want to build a hairpin leg table yourself or buy one that is already constructed, the Hairpin Leg Company can help.